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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/6/2013

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Z. Edgerton's Story

Z. EdgertonObsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was once a major barrier in my life.

For me, an obsession would start as a fast, unwanted, intrusive thought or image in my head that I might have done something bad or inappropriate, or did something where the consequence would be something unpleasant for me or someone else. Immediately after the thought, I would worry or doubt whether or not I actually did the action. For me, it was almost like a loss of memory; I doubted that I did it, but at the same time I doubted that I didn’t.

Because there was a possibility in my mind that I did do it, I would worry obsessively about the consequences of my action. This worrying resulted in me feeling very anxious, as I often suffered severe anxiety about whether or not I could handle the possible consequences. I also struggled with guilt, because I thought that I might have actually done something wrong.

Because of the emotional discomfort associated with the worrying and the anxiety, I would engage in rituals or compulsions with the intent of easing this worrying and anxiety. These rituals and compulsions would deaden the anxiety and worry temporarily, but once I recovered from one obsession, another one would take its place, with the same exhausting cycle described above. All of this doubting, worrying, anxiety, rituals, and compulsions carried out much time when OCD was a barrier in my life.

I began receiving counseling. I told the counselor and the psychiatrist what I was experiencing. Through time, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

After this diagnosis, my counselor and my psychiatrist worked along with me on my road to recovery from OCD. Through time, I learned coping strategies that have helped me recognize the obsessions and resist many of the compulsions. Among the obsessions, I have learned to recognize many of the fast, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts as illogical and stop them. I have also learned to be able to accept my worst fears or worries, and to realize that even if they turn out true, I am strong enough to deal with the consequences. In addition, my counseling involved exposure therapy, which exposed me to my fears to where I became accustomed to them and no longer found them as troubling. Recognizing these obsessions has enabled me to resist the compulsions as well.

My support system, which consists of my mother, my friends, and NAMI has also been vital to my road to recovery with OCD.

From the time that I was in counseling to now, I have graduated from high school, I have been an employee in many job positions, and have even graduated from college. Currently, I am involved with NAMI and have taken part in many opportunities there. Among them is involvement in the Consumer Council, which acts as a voice for those with mental illness to the community. I am a support group facilitator, a certified trainer for facilitators, and a speaker about my experiences with mental illness. It has all been and is very rewarding.

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.